NEW EUROPEAN REGULATION ON DRONES HAS BEEN PUBLISHED

Milan, 29 August 2018 -The legal framework for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – commonly referred to as drones – is going to change. On 22 August 2018, Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Union Aviation Safety Agency (“New Regulation”) has been published in the European Official Journal. It will come into force on 11 September 2018.

The New Regulation repeals Regulation (EU) 2008/216 – the so-called “Basic Regulation” – that was not applicable to and hence left to national legislation of the member states, drones with a weight below 150 kg. In contrast, the New Regulation applies to civil drones of all sizes and weights, progressively replacing national rules on civil drones under 150kg. Drones used for military, police or other public functions are excludedfrom the area of application of the New Regulation.

The New Regulation sets forth the first ever EU-wide rules on drones in order to ensure safety, security, privacy, data and environmental protection across Europe. Member States will now be governed by uniform rules and matters left to national legislation are highly reduced (e.g. aircrafts of simple design or which operate mainly on a local basis will remain under the regulatory control of the Member States).

With the scope to have the EU aviation sector and innovation grow, the New Regulation works under a proportionate and risk-based approach according to the drone’s characteristics and weight. By way of example, sport and recreational use of drones is subject to simpler approval than those use for commercial air transport.

In any case, high-risk drone operations need to apply for a certificate. In addition, if the drone transfers more than 80 joules of kinetic energy in the event of impact with a person, drone operators must be enrolled in a register and their drone marked for identification. Some drone operators are also asked to attend mandatory training courses before flight.

Cases of mandatory certification of drones and operators as well as other specific matters such as maximum altitude and distance limits for drone flights are left to the regulation of the European Commission to be adopted in cooperation with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in compliance with the basic principles set out in the New Regulation.

Last but not least, the New Regulation empowers EASA with new tasks related to the drone sector (e.g. opinions, inspections and other monitoring activities, assistance to the European Commission and to national competent Authorities).

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